This is an interview style blog with Gail Edmans who is training for the Marathon Des Sables which is held in the Sahara desert in Morocco this April. We decided on an interview due to time being precious for someone who manages to fit her training around a full time job and social life.
Some background info:
Work : Media sales
Previous achievements: 3 marathons, 1 ultra marathon, 4 ironman triathlons, 2 extreme ironman triathlons ( all within the last 8 years)
Q. So your last IM was in August, what have you been doing since?
A. First a 2 week recovery break from doing 2 IM in a year. Then I thought that I would pretty much put cycling and swimming on hold to concentrate on my my weakest and slowest discipline, running. However I soon realised that x-training was invaluable so I have kept up 1 swim a week with Thames Turbo’s and a couple of bike rides a week. In fact I did a 100 mile cycle today, The Hell of the Ashdown, with some work colleagues. I then researched MDS websites and bought myself a backpack and started running to and from work (10 mile round trip) and adding in some stair reps.
Q. What about injuries, have you managed to avoid these?
A. Well funny you ask now, I was just about to say that I thought that I was bullet proof having got through 2 IM in 2011, but I soon realised when I acquired a nagging calf strain, that you still need to build gradually. I had been pretty lucky keeping more or less injury free until this set back. I had acupunture and rehab to strengthen the calf, but being a bit too eager to get back it persisted for 7 weeks. I went on holiday end December and this combined with some kinesio taping allowed it to recover fully.
Q. You mentioned that you were born with a congenital hip problem, how does this affect you?
A. Well yes I was born without having a hip socket for my left femur and therefore spent 2 years on and off, at Stanmore orthopaedic hospital. I’ve managed to adapt pretty well tho. My mum always took me swimming as a kid and I did quite a lot of cycling too. The left leg is weaker and I have a significant leg length difference but otherwise I try not to think about it negatively. Some say I’m stubborn but I like to think its strong willed..ha. My knee does play up time to time on this side and my hamstring on the right leg is always a bit tight. I make sure that I have regular osteopathic treatment at Osteopath West.
Q. So how do you train for a challenge like this and how do you train for the heat?
A. I have probably put in the best part of 55-70 mile a week running with some walking with a backpack. I know that some of the MdS will be a big hike across the Sahara for me, trying to stay ahead of the 2 camels. As walking uses different muscles its important that I spend time doing that too. They say ‘stay ahead of the camels, don’t let off your distress flares and avoid a foot infection from septic blisters at all costs and you are pretty much still in the race’?? It will be hot in the day and cold at night, for the heat acclimatization I am doing Bikram (hot) yoga once a week and sometimes a double class (3hrs). Having one day a week off is my luxury at the moment…oh and the odd glass of wine or two.
I ran my first ultra marathon last week 50km, I actually did a bit longer as I got lost. Did get one funny concerned tweeter saying that getting lost in my own back yard doesn’t bode well for the desert!
Q. What keeps you going through the long hours of training?
A. I’ve always been better with the endurance stuff, gives me an excuse to be slow with less chance of high impact injuries. My stamina compensating for my lack of 3rd, 4th and 5th gear. I also get to listen to show tunes and Elaine Page, which I don’t get away with at home. Training is a hard slog but the incentive of all those gadgets I get to buy and ‘running’ into’ fellow MdSers (easy to spot with a rucksack , shoes 1-2 sizes too big to accommodate for swelling in 40-50c heat and the zombie-like look) training in Richmond park helps.
“They say it’s 50% physical and 50% mental, I know I am quite physically strong now but sometimes doubt my mental strength so this will be my toughest test yet, either way it will be an amazing experience running, walking and camping in the Sahara and I feel lucky to be part of it”.
Follow Gail on twitter @norsemouse or on my facebook page Osteopath West – Health/Medical/Pharmacy – London, United Kingdom | Facebook for updates.